Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Dana Jalobeanu, Charles T. Wolfe

Habit and Custom in the History of Early Modern Philosophy

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20791-9_379-1



Habit and custom are important notions in the works of many early modern authors. They are conceptual tools used in many cases: in moral accounts without recourse to religious principles; in political accounts to explain crucial processes such as the establishment of laws; in physiological accounts to describe the way the body and the brain function; and in epistemological accounts to report how people think. Habit and custom are closely related and sometimes even synonyms. Their meanings fluctuate depending on their use and the context, yet they remain powerful notions.

The term habit has, in English as well as in the main western philosophical languages, a history that has its roots in Greek and Latin. Etymologically habit derives from the Latin habitus, which in turn derives (like its correlated habitudo) from the verb habere, that is, “to possess.” Habitus translates the Greek hexiswhich...

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Nature Education Exercise Virtue/vice Morals Prejudice Character 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing ArtsRoma Tre UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Lendület Morals and Science Research GroupHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary

Section editors and affiliations

  • Angus Gowland
    • 1
  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK